Truly unique cars highlight Manhattan Beach car show
What made the inaugural Manhattan Beach Concours D’Elegance so notable wasn’t the exotic Lamborghinis, Porsches and Cobras. It was the the oddities, like Richard Franklin’s Freedom 1, which he built beginning with a clay model; Joe Tannerbaur’s 1940 Oldsmobile that has been in his family since 1941 and Larry Wood’s 1938 Ford C.O.E (cab over engine), the model for a Mattel Hot Wheel.
Mira Costa freshman freshman Connor Wohl and his cousin DaVinci School sophomore Aiden organized Sunday’s show at Mira Costa High School with help from their respective schools’ car clubs. Wohl said they came up with the idea because Manhattan didn’t have a car show and he knew many of his home town’s residents owned classic cars.
Among them is Wohl’s neighbor Franklin.
In 1977, Franklin sculpted a 1/14th scale, clay model of his Freedom 1 dream car. Then he built a full size model in styrofoam and fiberglass at his Gardena metal fabrication company. He hoped to begin limited production of the car, as Carroll Shelby had done with the Shelby Cobras. From the model, he cast a mold for making the body panels out of dent-resistant ABC plastic. He gave the Freedom 1 a pointed nose, so it the car would veer on a head-on impact, like a football helmet. The rear bumper had 400 LED lights to serve as turn indicators, brake and backup lights.
“Freedom 1 took until 1992 to complete. By then, I decided it would be a hobby car, not a limited production car,” he said.
Franklin recently replaced the original VW engine with a turbocharged Audi TT engine.
Woods, a Redondo Beach resident, found his 1938 Ford rusting in a field in Northern California. After restoring it, the Hot Wheels designer made a Hot Wheels model of the truck, which is now sold by Mattel. Woods daughter Monica attended Mira Costa and now teaches PE for the Manhattan Beach School district.
Tannerbaur’s Oldsmobile was languishing at his grandfather’s home in Wisconsin before the Torrance resident brought it to Torrance auto restorer Bob Perrine.
Another Manhattan Beach exhibitor with a one-of-a-kind auto was Tom Kazamek. He bought his 1958 Alfa Romeo 1900 Sport Prototype sight unseen from an Italian auction house 10 years ago. Sunday’s show was the first time he had exhibited it.
Manhattan Beach resident Phil Ludwig exhibited two imperial maroon 1956 XK 140s. After buying the fixed head coup in 1968, his wife began accusing him of having a mistress in their garage. So two years later, he bought her the convertible model. Ludwig worked for 40 years at McDonald Douglas and now serves as the wind steward at Second City Bistro in El Segundo when not leading wine tours through Italy and France.
Pacific School student Zach Wohl used his brother Connor’s show to give friends Andrew, Matthew and William Liner an opportunity to raise funds for their Kids for Laos Orphans charity. The three brothers raised over $1,000 for the Luang Prabang orphanage in Laos, which the brothers recently visited. They attend Westside Neighborhood School in Playa Vista.
Manhattan Beach Realtor John Altamura allowed the kids to pose for photos in his 1947 Chrysler Town and Country Convertible Woody after the kids told him it was their favorite car in the show. Altamura found the car in Scottsdale, Arizona and had it restored last year by Scott Boronski Hot Rods and Hobbies in Signal Hill. The car has 28 coats of maroon lacquer. The ash and mahogany woodwork was done by Doug Carr of The Wooden Car, also in Signal Hill.
For more about the orphanage, visit Kids4Laos.org. ER